I decided to reduce the number of ewes on the farm and I reluctantly sold Hoggets with lambs on foot.
found lambing difficult this year. I lost interest in it and it was too much 24/7 work for me and my wife, Claire, who is a teacher.
With lots of stock and the price of the inputs, we just felt like rolling a boulder up a hill.
I got Covid twice in the last six months and both times I had to work through it. A lot of people would consider that madness, but stopping mid-lamb to recover just wasn’t a runner.
I realized that I need to calm things down on the farm. As much as I love it, life is too short to be so busy you can’t take a day off.
I laugh when I hear people discuss how working 9 to 5 is a thing of the past and how we should aim for a four day work week.
It’s just not on the radar for me. But instead of laughing at this, maybe I should try to find a better way to make a living without beating up on us seven days a week?
Being a farmer is great, but all the work and no play can make farming very boring even on sunny days.
So I sold the Hoggets in Carnaross and Delvin. I was happy with the price, but that’s something I’m not used to.
It was hectic walking and corralling ewes with lambs. A few lambs got mixed up in the panic at penning but luckily I sorted them all out.
The buyers were happy and luckily patient and I was grateful to them for that, farmers do things properly when it comes to buying and selling stocks.
Meanwhile, grass springs out of the ground. I’ve applied very little fertilizer compared to other years and go with 25kg/ac splits of protected urea wherever and whenever needed.
The increase in fertilizer prices has me focused on getting more from less. I won’t be like that flithiúlach into the future, even if prices fall again.
By working on soil fertility and dealing with lime, P&K issues as well as overseeding clover, I now benefit from keeping my costs down.
It takes a little patience, a few mistakes here and there and there, but as the saying goes: the man or woman who never made a mistake never made anything.
I plan to start pit silage soon towards the end of the month or first week of June and any fields that are too far ahead will be baled.
I really don’t want to be dependent on winter feed. It is not worth. So I always take the opportunity to make as much winter fodder as possible and given the weather we’re getting there’s a chance to make plenty.
By the end of the month I have to seed wild bird cover, spray docks, overseed 30ac which I will underseed with tyfon and sew some clover on a field infested with docks.
Clover stitching worked really well for me last year. The contractor has done this using a monobuck and an air drill at a rate of 2kg/ac. It worked great and I would really recommend it. Although it takes a year for the benefits to be seen.
I have treated all the lambs for coccidiosis and treated them with Clik to cover them against bluebottles. The ewes are daggered, but I have to keep checking them as they walk on their backs.
Losing a sheep on your back is really frustrating, and Murphy’s Law states that if you miss an evening to check on them, it’s inevitable that the next day you’ll find one with its four legs up in the air.
I am going to have her clipped soon and that should alleviate the problem.
The solar panels are finally placed on the shed. I look forward to reduced electricity bills and if the “eco-warrior” millennials who are coming to stay leave the lights on, I don’t care.
I get a lot of students from all over Europe to help me. They’re all very environmentally conscious and complain about this and that, but when I ask them to turn off the lights or use a clothesline instead of the tumble dryer, you’d think I’d asked them to donate their left kidney.
John Fagan farms in Gartlandstown, Co. Westmeath
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/sheep/advice/john-fagan-why-i-am-reducing-my-ewe-numbers-to-improve-my-worklife-balance-41677770.html John Fagan: Why I’m Reducing My Ewe Stock to Improve My Work-Life Balance